The Science Reporter: Watch Dog, Lap Dog or Disinterested Observer?

October 18, 2005 4:00pm - 7:00pm

Sally Lehrman: This session focuses on the role of the individual reporter in science journalism, including the potential opportunities and pitfalls. Using examples from genomics and other medical science topics, Lehrman will show how reporters have fulfilled all three roles—watch dog, lap dog and disinterested observer—and give some guidance for staying out of that “lap dog” position, instead reporting accurately, fairly and informatively on this rapidly changing field.

What can we hope to accomplish as science reporters in the context of time pressures, public relations pressures, complex research findings and the economic interests driving science? What does “balance” mean when reporting science? Skills and tools of the trade that will be described include exercising good news judgment, evaluating source credibility and mix, using journals and other resources, understanding academic competition and pressures, and recognizing business interests.

Sally Lehrman